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Education

Big data and development: “The second half of the chess board”

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Do you think Fortune 500 CEOs care about Africa? In the past, frankly, with the exception of oil and gas giants, they didn’t. But this is changing… and fast.

This week, IBM is opening its Africa innovation hub in Nairobi. To demonstrate the significance of the occasion, IBM has brought along all its senior team, led by CEO Ginni Rometty (named #1 most powerful woman in business by Forbes in 2012). Like other ICT companies, IBM wants to ride the wave of Africa’s ICT revolution. In this area, Africa has not only been catching up with the West, but is in fact overtaking it in areas such as mobile money.

The Costs of Inaction

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Sudhir Anand and co-authors recently published a fascinating book, The Costs of Inaction, which looks at cost-benefit analysis in a different way. All cost-benefit analysis requires the analyst to specify a counterfactual—how the world would have evolved in the absence of the project of program.  This is critical.  An evaluation in Kenya included increased use of cellphones as an indicator of project success — neglecting the fact that cellphone use in neighboring villages was just as widespread. 

In many cases, the counterfactual could be “doing nothing.”  For a number of important areas such as health and education in Africa, The Costs of Inaction calculates the costs of doing nothing in terms of lives lost or under-educated children. 

What can we learn from successful companies and teams?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

This is the time of year when we make resolutions and you may be wondering what you can do better and more efficiently in 2013.A lot of books have been written on the topic but one of the best is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey who died in 2012. The 7 habits are: Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think win-win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize; Renew yourself.

Covey’s son – also called Stephen – wrote another remarkable book called The Speed of Trust, which includes this noteworthy statement: “You need to trust yourself before you can trust others.”

When people don’t behave according to economic models

David Evans's picture

What falls outside the standard assumptions and models of economics?  How does that matter for development?  Last week, the Africa Chief Economist’s Office and the Development Economics Research Group of the World Bank sponsored a star-studded course exploring exactly this issue.

Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof highlighted how, because of all the advantages of markets, we ignore the traps that come along with them.  Sellers can deceive buyers and prey on their unconscious biases, lack of self-control, and naiveté. 

Using his famous “lemons” market example, Akerlof showed that, instead of there being no equilibrium, naïve buyers will in equilibrium buy poor-quality used cars. He calls this phenomenon “Phishing for Phools”.

Time for high quality education for all?

Waly Wane's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in theTanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Education is key. As foundations go, there is none more important than this one – in achieving progress as well as in sustaining it.

Since the introduction of free primary education in 2001, Tanzania has achieved significant progress in improving access to basic education. Primary school attendance of children aged 7 to 13 years increased from 54 percent in 1999 to almost 80 percent in 2010. Yet Tanzania also still has one of the lowest primary-to-secondary transition rates in sub-Saharan Africa (at just 41 percent in 2009), with girls being particularly disadvantaged. In addition, standardized assessments have revealed that the quality of education is insufficient to provide students with the most basic numeracy and literacy skills. In 2011, Tanzania scored much lower than Kenya or Uganda in these assessments.

Not only does Tanzania still lag in terms of educational outcomes compared to neighboring countries but also the quality of education varies tremendously depending on where you live in the country:

Cervical Cancer Undermines Gender Equality in Africa

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

This blog post is co-authored with: Sheila Dutta

The 2012 World Development Report (WDR) “Gender Equality and Development” found that, while many disadvantages faced by women and girls have shrunk thanks to development, major gaps remain.

A significant gap is the excess female mortality in many low- and middle income countries, especially in childhood and during reproductive years. Cervical cancer —a preventable condition that usually results from a viral infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that is generally sexually transmitted— is one of the leading causes of premature death and ill health among women in sub-Saharan Africa.  As the figure shows, the Eastern, Western and Southern African regions have the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world.  Rates exceed 50 per 100,000 populations and age-standardized mortality exceeds 40 per 100,000 populations. 

Can Tanzania afford 100 million citizens in 2035?

Kristoffer Welsien's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Tanzania has experienced an exceptionally high population growth – from 11 million in 1963 to over 45 million in 2012. Among the factors that have contributed to this increase –one of the fastest in the world– is the falling mortality rate. Life expectancy in Tanzania has increased over the past two decades from 50 to 58 years. 

In addition, Tanzanian women have continued to have many children (5.4 per woman in 2010), which is higher than Kenya and Rwanda (4.6) as well as other sub-Saharan countries with the exception of Uganda.
Since 1991, this rate has only declined by 13 percent in Tanzania against 26 and 31 percent in Rwanda and Kenya, respectively.  Several other factors have also contributed to the high population growth rate that Tanzania is experiencing:

Is this a woman's world? Gender equality in Tanzania

Waly Wane's picture

Let's think together:Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate an evidence-based debate by sharing data from recent official surveys and ask you a few questions. These posts are also published in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Tanzanian families have been doing things differently of late. More of them have been sending their daughters to primary school and more women have become heads of families with increasing financial responsibilities. Increasingly too, more women are involved in the political arena today.  These trends can also be found in most countries in the world but they are especially visible in Tanzania as reflected by the following statistics.

Country policy and institutional assessment: How well are African countries doing?

Punam Chuhan-Pole's picture

Every year, the World Bank’s country teams and sector experts assess the quality of IDA countries’ policy and institutional framework across 16 dimensions to measure their strenght and track progess.  

The latest country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA) results show that despite difficult global economic conditions, the quality of policies and institutions in a majority of Sub-Saharan African countries remained stable or improved in 2011.

DOWNLOAD the indicators here: www.worldbank.org/Africa/CPIA

For several countries the policy environment is the best in recent years. Of the 38 African countries with CPIA scores, 13 saw an improvement in the 2011 overall score by at least 0.1. Twenty countries saw no change, and five witnessed a decline of 0.1 or more. The overall CPIA score for the region was unchanged at 3.2.  

In short, despite a challenging global economic environment, African countries continued to pursue policies aligned with growth and poverty reduction. 

What will it take to end poverty in Africa?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

My colleague Jim Kim has launched a social media campaign on what it will take to end global poverty (please send your solutions via twitter to #ittakes.) I was reminded of a blog post I did about four years ago entitled “Ending poverty in Africa and elsewhere”. 

My answer then and now is:  Overcome government failure.  By “government failure,” I don’t mean that governments are evil or even that they are incompetent or ill-intentioned.  Analogous to “market failure,” government failure refers to a situation where the particular incentives in government lead to a situation that is worse than what was intended with the intervention.  

For instance, governments finance and provide primary education so that poor children can have access to learning.  But if teachers are paid regardless of whether they show up for work, and politicians rely on teachers to run their political campaigns, the result is absentee teachers and poor children who don’t know how to read or write—precisely the opposite of what was intended.  We see similar government failures in health care, water supply, sanitation, electricity, transport, labor markets and trade policy.

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